Paul, November 9, 2013

The Chief Theater

Bemidji, MN


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GK: Bemidji is the home of Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox Babe. And it's a pleasure to welcome him to our show, Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox. And now I'm going to ride this fork lift  up in the air so I can talk to Paul. (SFX) There. Good.

TR: So. How you doing?

GK: Not bad. How's yourself?

TR: Can't complain.  Thanks for not saying, How's the weather up there?

GK:  You're welcome. How tall are you?

TR:   Eighteen feet.

GK:   Pretty big guy. There's another Paul Bunyan in Brainerd, I think.

TR: He's a fake.

GK: Bangor, Maine. Portland, Oregon. Akeley, Minnesota.

TR: Fakes.

GK: What about the stories?

TR: Pretty much made up. Mythology. The story about me walking across Minnesota and my footprints making lakes. That's not true. The lakes were God's creation, not mine.

GK: So you're Lutheran?

TR:  Used to be.

GK: What happened?

TR:  Well, Lutherans have a tendency of putting other people down when they get too big for their britches.

GK: Yeah?

TR: But I got real big britches. They couldn't accept that.

GK: So you left them?

TR: Left and went to the Unitarians.

GK: What'd they think?

TR: They thought I was god. They didn't used to have one, you know. Just believed in the spirit of love or something. Then I walked in. They all fell down on their knees and I handed them the Book of Mormon. Which I had wrapped in tinfoil. Boy that threw em for a loop. They were talking about that for weeks. 

GK: So what do you do here, if you don't mind my asking?

TR:   Just stand around. Pose for pictures. People stop and get tourist information. Use the toilets. You know----

GK:   Do you talk to people?

TR: Not so much.  It sort of freaks people out if an 18-foot-guy says stuff, so they want me to stand still, pretty much.

GK: Speaking of toilets, when do you get to go?

TR: Have to wait until dark.

GK: And then where do you go?

TR:    I don't talk about that.

GK:   I just thought maybe you had your own facility-----

TR:    I don't have any comment on that.

GK:    You don't go in the lake----

TR:     I don't want to discuss it.

GK:    So you'll be here all winter?

TR:   I guess so. I was trying to get time off to go to Canada but so far, I donno.

GK: You wouldn't go south?

TR:  My contract says I cannot go south in the winter. It'd send the wrong message to people. But I flew to Canada once.

GK: You flew?

TR:  Boy, the look on people's faces when they see an 18-foot guy coming up the aisle into economy. And they realize I'm sitting in the middle seat next to them. People freak out.

GK:     You've lived in Bemidji all your life?

TR:     Not all of it yet. All of it up to now.

GK:  People here are good to you?

TR:      Yeah. When I go out on the lake ice-fishing they get a little jumpy, but other than that they're okay.

GK:     You have a girlfriend?

TR:      Used to.

GK:      What happened?

TR:      Don't want to talk about it.

GK:      She leave you?

TR:       You could say that.

GK:       What happened?

TR:       I was taking up too much of the bed. Took all the covers. Bemidji women'll put up with everything else but when you roll over and pull the covers off them, that's it. You're outta there.

GK:     Thank you.  I'm going to lower myself down now. (ENGINE OF FORKLIFT) Mr. Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe. (BELLOW)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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